Planking Your Model Ship Hull

Almost ready to plank your model ship? Not quite. Let’s finish off the discussion on framing. Before the wales and the planks can be attached, all of the frames need to be beveled correctly. This means that the outside edges of all the frames are angled to a greater or lesser extent to follow the run of the hull so as to provide a solid support for the strakes. In English you say! Alright -the bulkheads at mid ship will be square but beveled toward either the bow or stern in the direction of the bow or the stern and the amount of bevel will increase as you get closer to either end. This is done so that the planks will have as much bonding area with the bulkheads as possible. The angle of the bevel is usually found on the waterline drawing. It’s better to do a rough beveling job prior to attaching the bulkheads to the false keel so that you don’t loosen the entire hull framework during this process. Use a rasp or long piece of sand paper attached to a piece of wood. Once the bulkheads are attached to the keel frame, use some sandpaper to refine the angle.

Speaking about the waterline, make sue that you have drawn the load water line on both the false keel and the bulkhead. The waterline at which the loaded ship floats is usually not the same as the design waterline because ships tend to be trimmed astern and thus the waterline is not parallel to the keel.

Start with the wales prior to any planking. The wales are a series of heavy planks the width of which may be the same as the hull planking but with greater thickness so that they protrude beyond the planking. The tops and bottoms are usually slightly rounded off and you can find more that one on a ship. The wales are used to provide extra support to the frame. When fitting the wales work alternatively from starboard to port side and make sure that they follow the markings on the frame edge and have a regular and smooth run without flat spots and sudden bends. Now we get into some fine details when building 16th and 17th Century ships versus 18th and 19th Century ships. The former had wales extending 3 to 4″ beyond the planking and the later 2 to 3 inches.

For the rest of this series of articles, I’ll talk in terms of an 18th Century ship that measured 155 feet in length. The scale will be 1:48. So the actual length of the model is 38.6″. In the example above concerning the wale protrusion, you would want the wale to extend 1.5mm beyond the planking.

Now that we are talking about scale let’s look at the length and width of the boards used in an18th Century ship. The width was between 11inches and 14 inches which extrapolates to 7mm as the ideal scale width. The length of the boards were between 20 ft and 24 feet or in scale about 5 ½” or 140mm.

The most common type of planking is carvel where the individual boards or strakes are butt-joined to each other. For modeling purposes, the most practical method of planking is to attach it in two layers. The first base layer will be a thicker piece of wood that will provide structure and shape to the hull (you can consider this your practice planking layer). The second layer is a veneer that is your finishing layer. For the base layer you do not need to worry about the scale length. To provide extra rigidity, you can glue pieces of wood in between the bulkheads on the inside of the hull. There are strong curves at both the bow and stern ends. You want to pre-form the planks the best you can. There are a number of methods you can use but they all involve water and a jig. Soak your plank in warm water for ten to fifteen minutes. This is just enough time to make the cells of the wood pliable without breaking down the structure of the cell. Place the wet wood in a jig that simulates the shape you need and let dry. For very severe bends or extremely thick pieces of wood, you may want to step through this process a few times changing the angles of the jig as you go along.

And now for a few words on plank bending tools. The simplest jig is one that you make out of scrap plywood and nails. Form the nails into a crescent shape and wrap with tape to prevent rust spots on your plank. There are commercially available tools that do the same thing but are adjustable so you can change your angles. Another method is to use an electric plank bender. This is an excellent tool for thick pieces of wood. You will only require to process the plank once and it will hold it’s shape. Some builders wet their wood and hold it over a candle flame as they bend the wood. Others make a steam tube out of plumbing PVC pipe that is capped on both ends (one end being removable). No matter what method you use, remember that if you use wood glue to adhere the plank to the frame, you need to let the wood thoroughly dry because wood glue is water soluble (the key to success when gluing two pieces of wood together). At alternative is to use contact cement. The advantage of this glue is that the wood can be applied while damp and in its’ most pliable state.

The next useful step is to measure the actual run of the planks on the hull. To do this, divide up the hull at the mid-ship frame into divisions the same size as the width of the planks. You now count the number of planks, and divide each bulkhead in turn into the same number of divisions. If the points thus marked are joined with a thin bevel batton, you will obtain the exact run of the strakes. At the ends, the planks should never be narrower than 3.5mm or wider than 10.5mm for a 7mm wide plank.

Start applying the planks one by one, first the starboard side and then the port side. There are a few methods you can use to clamp the boards to the frames while the glue dries. There are clamps with lips that either screw into or attach to the frame and hold the board in place. Because you are applying the inner layer, you can also use brass nails to fasten the board to the frames. The nail heads will sand off so you can leave them in place once the glue has cured. But the best technique is to apply a spot of CA glue (fast dry) to one end of the board for positioning, then apply wood glue to the rest of the board, turn the TV onto your favourite game and while enjoying yourself, hold the board in place with your fingers for about 20 minutes. At the next commercial break, start another plank on the opposite side of the hull. I estimate in a 3 hour game, you should be able to apply 8 boards.

With the first layer now planked wood filler is applied over the entire hull, and subsequently sanded off. This is repeated until every crack, groove, dent and bulge has entirely disappeared. Make sue that the hull is symmetrical on both the starboard and port side and check the run from bow to stern.

It’s now time for applying the finishing veneer layer. For our sample hull we will be applying the veneer in about 5 section runs. The usual pattern of the shift of butts are either three plank shifts or four plank shifts. Just remember that the butts always coincide with the frames. You may want to apply or simulate nails or spikes and you also may want to simulate tar lines in between the strakes. Apply the veneer using the same methods you used to apply the first layer of planking.

Once the hull is planked it is the ideal time to apply a finish. For unpainted hulls, you should use a semi gloss varnish that has been diluted 30% for the first two coats then full strength for the final coat. Lightly sand in between applications.

If you are going to paint the hull and before the model ship’s hull can be fitted to a display stand, the underwater hull has to be completed. First mark the waterline on the hull. Once again there are commercially available tools but a block of wood with a pencil attached at the correct height for the ship’s waterline works great. Just carefully walk the piece of wood around the stationary hull. Below the waterline the hull was usually painted with wood coal tar which coloured it a dark brown or almost black. Sulphur was often added to the tar to offer protection against worm attack. This resulted in a yellowish grey colour. The alternative was to paint the underwater hull with a white lead paint, which produced a dirty white finish.

From the middle of the 18th Century, it became common to sheath the underwater hull in copper sheeting. For our purpose, we’ll assume that our ship was built after 1850 and was British so it would have had copper sheathing. The size of the sheet would have been 48″ x 15″ scaled to 25.4mm x 8 mm with a thickness of.004″ In order to simulate the nail fasteners, you can either purchase preformed pieces or use copper strips cut to size and a 7/16″ pounce wheel to simulate the nail heads The copper sheets usually overlapped from bow to stern and from top to bottom of the hull. So start at the bottom of the stern and work forward and upward. Contact cement is good for adhering the plates to the hull. After installation is complete, clean them and apply a coat of clear protective lacquer

Our next topic will be on planking the deck.

The Purpose of a Marketing Plan

The purpose of an online marketing plan is to set the direction your business will go to promote the business, build a customer base and determine any opportunities to make a profit.

When you are writing your plan, you are predicting and deciding how your business will meet your client’s needs while generating a profit for your business.

Your online marketing business plan will need to highlight:

  • What you will offer
  • Who you are selling to
  • Where you will sell your product
  • Where you will distribute your product
  • What type of customer service you will offer
  • Who your competitors are
  • Where you plan to be in the market
  • How much you will sell and when
  • How you will promote your business
  • What your prices will be

When you are writing a business plan you will want to include a marketing plan because it will help you manage your projected expenses and possible projected income. The marketing plan will help define times of financial outlay so that when those lulls arrive they aren’t unexpected.

You may already be involved in different forms of marketing for your business, but having a clear plan, even at this stage, will help lend focus to your path.

Clarity in direction is one of the major benefits of a marketing plan. It will decide not only when you advertise, but how and to whom. Potential venture capitalists will definitely want to see a marketing report, as they will want to know what your plan is for the money they are bringing to the project.

Planning is a key point and a core business principle that will help determine the future of your business and at the core of your business is the marketing plan. It’s not just the finished marketing plan that will help you, but the thoughts you will encounter when writing the plan and the obstacles you will overcome in the process will have a major effect on the way you do business. You will understand your customer and their needs on a deeper level and you will be better equipped to meet the needs of your customer.

Handrails Make Staircases Appear Stylish

What’s a staircase without the handrail? I’d say it’s bare and not safe. It would be unattractive to look at as well.

The stairs being an important part of a house or building needs to have a safety feature. It is what enables people to go to the second and higher levels of a certain structure. And what completes this vital component is the handrail.

With the presence of handrails, people both young and old can safely go up and down the stairs. They have something to hold on to which makes ascending and descending the stairs easier. Handrails are also vital in aiding people with disabilities and their companions.

Handrails vary in the type of material and style. They can be decorative or just the plain ones. Wooden handrails are the most widely used materials in many homes. The ideal types of hardwood to use that are of top quality include oak, cherry, maple, mahogany, birch, pine and walnut.

The wood handrails are the most classic of all materials available today. They’re best used with wood staircases but they can also be combined with iron or metal stair railings. Whatever style you desire, wooden handrails are always a standout. They’re not only cool and comfortable to the hands but they also provide a different appeal to any interior space.

A standard wood hand rail is made of a two by two piece of lumber with one rounded side and another flat section which rests on the brackets. Each stock of hand rail is available in an 8-foot dimension. Brackets are also of different types.

When you have home improvement projects that need the installation of handrails, it’s recommended that you consult a professional contractor or interior designer. It is important to know the proper dimensions and clearance needed in using handrails. In addition, there are building code requirements that must be followed. Codes may vary, though, depending on your location.

For homeowners who want to have their handrails painted, it is best to paint it before the installation process. A painted or stained handrail needs to be dried well for at least an entire day or two days.

Marking the area where you will be putting the handrail is important. Use a pencil to mark the height of your railing as well as the location of the brackets and the holes. Make sure to just drill small pilot holes for the screw of the brackets. To measure the height of your handrail, you can use your hand and imagine the place where it will be comfortable while pretending to rest it on a handrail.

In installing handrails that will be attached to a wall, you need to have brackets to make them sturdy. These brackets are normally screwed to the wall. Keep in mind not to over tighten the screw and drill very far into the railing. Drilling a deep hole may break the railing especially if it’s one made of wood.

In measuring the location of your brackets, consider the width of your wall. You can use the distance of your wall stud as a guide when measuring the distance of each bracket.

Wood Decks – Building Wood Railings Using 2×4 Pickets

Although aluminum railings have become more and more popular in recent years, many people still prefer the look of a wooden railing for their outdoor deck. If you are planning to build a wood railing for your deck or have a contractor build a wood railing for you, here are some tips and suggestions to help you build a better, longer lasting railing.

Many deck builders will use 2×2 lumber pickets for constructing their wood railings. They look great when first installed, but unfortunately 2×2 pickets tend to warp and twist out of control over the years. Depending on the environmental conditions of the area you live in, 2×2 pickets can look terrible in as little as one season! One of the tricks to building a long lasting, good looking wood railing is to use 2×4 lumber for pickets.

Another great advantage to choosing 2×4 for pickets is the cost difference. Most of the home building centers offer pre-cut ballusters for deck railings at a higher price than the equivalent length of 2×4 lumber. You’ll need to cut your own lengths from longer pieces, but it’s well worth the cost savings and durability gains.

Furthermore, if you choose 2×4 lumber for pickets, you actually don’t need to use any 4×4 posts to achieve the railing strength required by code in most places. Double check with your local building codes before proceeding this way.

Simply start with a 2×4 picket bolted to the deck frame in each spot where you would normally locate a 4×4 post (usually spaced at 6 feet maximum). These will replace the main 4×4 posts of the railing, so you should use through-bolts to secure these to the rim joist of the deck, and reinforce the rim joists against twisting. Make sure these starting pickets are perfectly plumb before proceeding.

Next, attach a horizontal rail along the top of the main pickets, and attach a top cap (the surface of the railing). All that remains is to fill in the spans between the main pickets with more 2×4’s spaced evenly. The rest of the pickets can be screwed rather than bolted. The result is a much stronger railing that will last longer without warping and twisting.

Remember not to exceed the maximum allowed space between pickets, as per the local building codes (usually 4 inches maximum). Also remember to observe the minimum railing height required in the local building code. The railing height required will change depending how high off the ground your deck is.

A Guide to Juliet Balconies

Juliet balconies are named after Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. These are not true balconies, but rather are usually a part of an upper floor and do not project from the building. Instead, there are walls on the sides and a balustrade in the front. A balustrade, from the French and Italian words for pomegranate flower, is a series molded shafts that stand on a footing and support the handrail of the balcony. The small space is designed to make a space feel larger and lighter, and as such is very popular in crowded cities, where outdoor space is hard to find. The large glass opening can make the outdoors feel directly connected to the indoor room, and both the light and aeration of the space will be enhanced. Gardens are also a valuable commodity in a city, and a Juliet balcony can allow for a garden of sorts by adding planters and hanging plants in the space.

Unlike a traditional protruding balcony, the Juliet balcony is not for extra space or entertaining, but instead are to add an outdoor feel to an indoor space. Many Juliet balconies still hold with the traditional shape of a narrow rectangle surrounded by a stone balustrade with glass doors leading inside. The best spatial advantage is taken when the doors open inwards. The popularity of the Juliet balconies is growing, and some are even converting existing windows by exchanging the windows for double doors or French doors, with the balcony fixed to the external architecture for safety and for the beauty of design.

Because of the strength and sturdiness of iron, it is often used for Juliet balconies. It is also very malleable, which allows for many shapes. The downside to a large iron piece, however, is that they are very heavy. The iron on the Juliet balcony may pull away from the exterior of the house and the repair is fairly expensive. One alternative to iron is aluminium, which is strong but light. However, aluminum is much more difficult to shape, making the balcony more function than form. Juliet balconies have a strong European influence and have a strongly traditional background, but several more recent manufacturers have been integrating more modern materials into their designs.

15 Fast, Fun and Easy Christmas Decorating Ideas

Decorating your home for the holidays does not need to be stressful or expensive. Being one of the most popular times of the year to decorate, get your family involved and have fun making your home beautiful for the holiday season.

Here are 15 Christmas decorating ideas:

1. Display your favorite Christmas collections. If you don’t have a collection, now is a great time to start! My son and I collect nutcrackers and every year we have a wonderful time selecting just the right one. With a permanent marker, I write the year on the bottom of the nutcracker. Not only do we enjoy looking at the nutcrackers during the holidays, we also enjoy the fond memories of selecting them.

2. Make simple bows out of Christmas ribbons and attach them to your curtains with pins. This is a very charming look.

3. Decorate your house plants by hanging small Christmas ornaments on them.

4. Place a collection of Christmas books on your coffee table.

5. Fill a glass bowl with pine cones and Christmas balls and place on a shelf or table.

6. Wrap your staircase banister with indoor Christmas lights, garland, and bows.

7. To add scent throughout your home, tie 5 or 6 cinnamon sticks together in a bundle using Christmas ribbon. Make as many bundles as you wish and place around your home in baskets or bowls.

8. To decorate your table, tie Christmas ribbon to the stems of glasses and/or handles of cutlery.

9. To dress up your chairs, tie Christmas bows around the chair so that the bow is on the back of the chair.

10. Using a small brush or q-tip, paint the edges of pine cones with glittery gold craft paint. After the pine cones dry, place them in a decorative basket.

11. Add Christmas garland to door frames, window frames and mirrors. You can use tape to secure the garland to the surfaces.

12. Tie bows around door knobs using festive and colorful Christmas ribbon.

13. Attach garland and Christmas bows to your chandelier. You can also weave strings of red beads in the garland that will dangle down from your chandelier and reflect the light, which will add sparkle.

14. If you live in a milder climate, consider decorating with Amaryllis plants. These beautiful plants come in red and white, grow tall, and provide a very elegant look.

15. Don’t forget to decorate your fireplace mantel and hang your Christmas stockings. A few fireplace mantel decorating ideas are adding garland, different styles and sizes of Santas, teddy bears, and candles. You can also display your favorite nativity scene if you have a large enough mantel.

Be creative with your fireplace mantel because most mantels are the focal point during the holiday season. Another decorating idea for your mantel is to purchase a bunch of miniature rosemary trees shaped like Christmas trees, add mini ornaments to them and line them up across your mantel. These miniature rosemary trees are readily available during the holidays and come in festive containers.

Christmas decorating is a great time to create traditions and spend quality time with your family. Get out some snacks and drinks and create a little “decorating party” that your family will love and look forward to year after year.

Happy Holidays!

Top Photography Lighting Tips Using Flash For Portraits

Never use direct flash. Never use the built in flash on your camera apart from one type of effect called catchlight…see “catchlights”. Use an add on flash and at the very least you can bounce it off a wall behind you, the ceiling or even a side wall. Simple, very diffuse and natural. This one tip alone can change make your photography look professional.

Watch your sync Due to the design of a DSLR, the shutter and flash synchronisation have limitations which mean that most cameras will only sync up to 1/250, and some are at 1/180. The only time you start to notice this issue is when you are outdoors and having to balance daylight with your flash. So make sure your shutter speed is set below your sync speed.

Use available lighting as well. Shooting indoors or out, there is available light which is often nicer and warmer that your flash alone. (By the way we called the flash a strobe, so I’ll use this term from now on) The trick to getting this is to reduce your shutter speed. Remember you are using a strobe, which flashes at 1/10000 of a second; so you really don’t need to worry about camera shake. You can reduce the shutter speed to 1/30 sec…even 1/15 although you may start getting some blurring effects if you go too low. At 1/30 you should easily get some warmth coming through. Use this rule: Shutter speed adjusts daylight – Aperture adjusts flash. This tip alone will greatly improve your photography for.portraits.

Take this tip one step further and if you are shooting outdoors use movement to illustrate the action, and flash to keep your subject sharp. Works great for weddings.

Catchlights In portraits what makes the eyes sparkle is called a catchlight. Its essential to get these in your shots, they can make or break your portrait. To get them without strobes in daylight, sit your subject in front of window, and position their head so that the window light is visible in their eyes. To get them with a strobe, you need to take it off camera and position it off to the right/ or left, but remember you are bouncing your flash so use a reflector card on the strobe to create the catchlight. Many modern strobes have one built in to the unit that can extend about an inch from the head itself. This reflects a white light back to the subject. Alternatively you can tape a 2×1 inch piece of card to the back of the strobe to create the same effect.

More tips…

Use your inbuilt flash for catch light Most modern cameras now have a popup flash built in. You should never use this, as the main light from it is too small, harsh and ugly. However, it can create good catchlights. You need to dial the exposure compensation for the flash down -2 stops so that it does light the scene too much.

You need diffuse flash If you getting serious about portraits or people images with strobes you must diffuse your light properly. You can get an umbrella, softbox, or even makes something our of cereal box, with tracing paper at the end. Good tip here…A simple solution is to take milk carton and clean it out and wrap it around you strobe head.

Get your flash off camera for effective lighting in your photography OK so you need to get your strobes off your camera and fire them remotely. You can either buy cactus wireless triggers (about $40 – bargain!) or use cable/PC-sync cords. The wireless triggers give you much more scope to move about. You can also use them behind objects, which takes your lighting to a new level.

Look for back lighting Backlit situations make beautiful hairlights…and add a real wow factor, if you get the frontal exposure right. If you are in a backlight situation, use your strobe to light the subject to balance. You need to get the balance right, and with digital you can check it right away. Remember to set your exposure for the daylight, and then add the flash at the same aperture setting. Then use the rule: Shutter speed adjusts daylight – Aperture adjusts flash.

Hot tip on backlighting….go for flare. Its not taboo and adds a bit of character to the shot. Make sure you get your subject clear though and correctly exposed.

Understanding KVM Switches

A Keyboard, Video, Mouse i.e. KVM switch is a hardware gadget which helps the user to organize multiple computers from a single keyboard, video monitor and mouse. Although many computers can be connected to KVM’s only a few computers can really take advantage of the KVM switch device. Recently more devices are being supported with KVM capability allowing firewire and USB devices such as speakers and routers to connect to the KVM’s. A number of market ready KVM’s can also operate in reverse i.e. a single PC can be joined to multiple keyboards, mouse and monitors.

But the usefulness of KVM switches can be fully maximized when there are multiple computers in use, for example in data centers when different servers are in operation – multiple racks being controlled by a single keyboard, mouse and monitor. In this way KVM’s help data centers connect to multiple servers as they desire, without loss of control. In homes with the assistance of KVM switches; keyboards, mice’s and monitors of a home PC can be joined with laptops, tablet PC, PDAs, and Mobiles etc.

KVM Switches are some of the cheapest mechanical devices available in the market. These are based on multi-pole switches. They contain a rotary knob to select different computers. Typically KVMs allow sharing of 2 to 4 computers, but can join a maximum of 12 machines on a single switch configuration. One disadvantage of using mechanical KVMs is that, if a particular computer is not selected by the switch you can’t ‘see’ a keyboard or its mouse. Users are also advised that during power failures when a PC reboots for a while KVMs will be unable to detect keyboards and mice. In the absence of a strong KVM signal, KVM switches fail to communicate optimally or at their complete capability for example if the switches signal is less than 100%, the multimedia keyboards keys on a keyboard would not be able to function properly. This could also affect monitors tied to the switch, in which screen resolution is affected and can drop as low as 800×600. There is however software options that act similar to KVM’s such as Virtual Network Computing (VNC), KaVoom, MaxiVista etc., these software’s facilitate switching hardware over network connections thus helping in reducing the number of wires connected. However alternative software also hold some disadvantages like pre-loading of additional software on each server in an endeavor to permit clients to remotely connect. If the server or pc/computer is busy, the software will stop responding to network connections. KVMs have one advantage over software alternatives – that is, they do not depend on any software, thus allowing remote connections. Contemporary KVM Switches use a minimum of 128-bit data encryption which is secured over WAN or LAN.

Buying tips: KVM Switches [http://www.comnauts.com/collections/kvm-switch]

* Look for hardware devices that you would like to connect to a KVMs whether, mouse, keyboard and/or monitor. Identify which port (USB and/or PS/2) your computer will use to interface with these devices.

* Choose a KVM switches that support all standard resolutions.

* Look for KVM switches that support auto scan intervals ASI and contain LED intervals.

* Make sure the switch you wish to purchase contains security features.

Grow Hair in Just 8 Days and Stop Embarrassing Frontal Baldness

Some people accept frontal baldness as a natural way of life. However, it is less acceptable for many others. Frontal baldness, or the loss or thinning of hair on the top of the scalp is becoming a problem that is more and more prevalent. Although most people believe that this condition affects a very tiny segment of society, this is not true. About 60% of men suffer from this complaint and about 38% of women over 50 are affected by it.

Sadly, there is no single cure to prevent hair loss in everyone. But in most cases, a good healthy diet is one of the main components that promotes normal hair growth. Important vitamins and minerals for hair growth include zinc, copper, iron, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-7, and calcium. To ensure that you get all of these essential vitamins and minerals, you can use a multi-vitamin on a daily basis.

To further minimize the effects of thinning hair, you should eat foods that are rich in these vital nutrients. A good diet rich in these items will decrease the chances of worsening the condition.

Stress also plays a large role in hair growth and is a significant factor in hair loss. Recent studies have indicated that people who are under less stress tend to have less of a balding problem.

Another way to prevent hair loss or to stimulate hair growth is to massage your scalp on a regular basis. A good scalp massage helps promote healthy hair follicles and helps stimulate the growth of new hair. For maximum benefit, you should gently masage your scalp for ten to fifteen minutes.

Of course, if you think that your frontal baldness is due to an underlying medical condition, you should see a health care practitioner well-versed in this area. Your doctor may perform several tests to determine whether there is an underlying cause fo the condition.

Paraguay’s Pioneering Tilapia Aqua Farm

Acahay, Ybyraity County, Paraguay

With the South American country of Paraguay’s having no ocean frontage or seaports, until twenty years ago the only way to acquire seafood in commercial quantities was to import it at great expense. Thus not many of the country’s consumers could afford to buy a fish dinner. Then along came entrepreneurs Luc Van Ruymbeke and his wife Aida Ramos who saw a need that could be filled and they built the country’s first aqua farm. Luc is an agricultural engineer from Belgium and Aida, my wife’s sister, is a marine biologist from Honduras. They have combined their talents into a thriving family enterprise, Granja Aida 1, a 124 acre aqua farm containing 105 ponds, each one being about 3,000 square meters in size. At capacity the farm can supply slightly in excess of a half million pounds of fish per year including other countries in South America, Europe and the United States.

Luc and Aida selected this remote location outside the small town of Acahay, about a three-hour drive easter from the capital of Asuncion, because of the natural aquifers underground and abundant rainfall. They actually had to drain the swamp and install berms to create the ponds. Because the water table is high no plastic or concrete lining is needed to retain water. They designed the water system so that water flows by gravity using channels. The only place where pumps are needed is at the farmhouse.

Recently Ruth, our children and I, were invited to spend nearly two weeks at the farm. We had never been to Paraguay before and I had not met Luc nor daughters, Suzy and Sophie previously. On our first tour of the property we learned that the aqua farm business here is not without its hazards and risks. This former swamp land still has all the critters you would normally find in a swamp. Poisonous snakes are a menace. Fortunately the snakes are in winter hibernation this time of year but when they wake up in a few months they will be hungry and will bite anything that moves. They have been found inside the house and they like to curl up in people’s boots. This gives new meaning to “shake your booty” when you get up in the morning! Other seasonal predators that steal great quantities of fish if left uncontrolled are cormorants. This is the same species of birds used in Asia for fishing. Asian fishermen place a ring around the bird’s throat to prevent it from swallowing the fish. Here these birds are unwanted. This time of year they have flown north for the winter but they will be back.

The biggest threat to the aqua farm, however, is the weather. Tilapia have only a certain tolerance for cold. With July and August the coldest months extra precautions must be taken to prevent the fish from dying prematurely. For instance the other night Luc took the kids out to light fires so the warm smoke would settle over the waters and provide cover for the ponds. This same method is used by tomato growers to help prevent the crop from freezing. Yes, we have no tomatoes here, however. But if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate even smoke won’t help. After freezing temperatures at night, if the sun doesn’t come out for one or two days to heat up the water again all can be lost. A few years ago during winter the sun didn’t shine for ten days in a row and the farm suffered a substantial loss.

One morning we witnessed a funny scene from an upstairs window. A dog had caught a fish in one of the ponds. As he trotted down the dike with the fish dangling from his mouth, looking for a place to enjoy his meal in privacy, he didn’t go unnoticed. First one vulture, then another joined in, followed by a third and fourth. The birds of prey all went running after him in a single file parade trying to get in on the action. The dog turned, saw the birds, and quickly ducked into some bushes to escape from his pursuers. The vultures stood around for a while waiting for the dog to come out but eventually they gave up and flew away.

© Robert R. Talley 2011

What Exterior Should You Use for Your Commercial Building?

Commercial structures generally use exterior finishes that suggest permanence and professionalism, as opposed to the more casual, homey air of residential buildings. A large number of potential exterior choices exist for a commercial building in Minnesota in terms of durability, design and choice of material. Most Minnesota building contractors recommend choosing one of the following materials for a commercial building.

Brick and Brick Veneer

Brick exteriors have a classic appeal that give a sense of stability and sturdiness to a structure, as well as increasing its overall curb appeal and value. While brick tends to be higher priced when compared to some of the other potential choices, the initial cost of brick installation is counterbalanced by its strength and durability. As any dependable Minnesota building contractor will point out, a well-maintained brick structure can easily last for more than a century.

Bricks are highly effective thermal insulators and, as a result, they help craft an energy-efficient Minnesota construction project. Insurance premiums on brick structures also tend to be lower as they are largely fireproof and require very little in terms of maintenance.

It is also possible to lower the overall costs of the building by opting for mortar-less brick veneer, which does not require a skilled masonry contractor for installation. Not only does the material offer a clean, professional look to commercial buildings, but it will also withstand potential wear and tear due from the weather better than other similar materials.

Synthetic Stone or Brick

Synthetic stone or brick facades are another method by which the appearance of brick or stone can be simulated by using materials that are more durable. These facades are perfect for commercial buildings as they are resistant to the cracks that sometimes appear in brick constructions. Synthetic stone or brick frontages can give new Minnesota construction projects a pleasantly welcoming appearance without the maintenance problems associated with the natural materials. These also have the added advantage of being flame-resistant and waterproof.

Stucco

Stucco traditionally consists of sand, Portland cement and water, and is a dense, hardwearing material. Many Minnesota building contractors use stucco as a protective coating for walls and ceilings. Sturdy and easy to maintain, it has been used since ancient times to add durability and strength to buildings in addition to being mold-, water- and fire-resistant.

Commercial stucco is highly decorative as it can be tinted to practically any shade and a variety of looks is available to improve the visual appeal of a building. Today, it is used to add texture to building surfaces and hide any unappealing features.

Exterior Insulation Finishing System

Exterior Insulation Finishing System (EIFS) is a lightweight synthetic wall finish that combines insulation and finishing coats to provide a synthetic stucco look to building exteriors. While traditional commercial stucco is hardy and economical, it does not respond well to changes in weather and temperature. Constant expansion and contraction of the stucco layer can lead to cracking and flaking over time. Installation of a stucco layer can also be laborious and time-consuming. EIFS combines the durability and textured finish of stucco with extra insulation and improved energy efficiency to create a superior product.

Fiber-Cement Siding

Fiber-cement siding consists of fiber mixed in with rough sand and cement. Its appearance mimics that of traditional wood siding but with increased endurance and durability. Fiber-cement siding is the perfect choice for a Minnesota construction project that will have a relaxed, domestic appearance reminiscent of classic exterior residential siding.

These are only some of the many options available when choosing the frontage for a commercial building. The final choice would depend on a variety of factors including the desired impression, ease of maintenance as well as specific environmental conditions. An experienced Minnesota contractor can advise you on the best options for your commercial building’s exterior.

Home Repair Tip: How To Solder Copper Water Pipe

Whether big or small, important or not as important, all home repair projects take a number of steps, within a period of time, to finish. Something that is of great importance definitely takes careful preparation and well thought of points to consider, as well as a healthy resolve, to keep it rolling till the project is complete. Learning how to solder copper water pipes is no exemption. There no simple, one-step solution to soldering. However, here is a five step plan to give you something to think to think about and help you in achieving this goal.

1. Do a dry run on your work by firstly, joining pipes and fixtures together. This is an important step as it will minimize any problems that you may encounter when it is time to solder. If you do happen to skip this process, there could be leaks in the connections causing other additional problems-depending on what you plan to use the pipes for.

2. This next step is a critical one. Make sure to use sand cloth or emery to clean out the pipe ends. It requires your time and attention to make sure it is done well. In fact, there is a better way to do this: clean the fitting that you are going to use. By doing this, you will ensure that there are no leaks and that you have made a clean fit.

3. Make sure to use soldering flux on the endings that you cleaned, as well as on the insides. This is because you want to make certain that a solid connection is made. One more important reason is to eliminate any possibility of leaks later on.

4. Once you have connected all the pipes and fittings, put on the heat. To elaborate further on that: make sure the pipes fit well. Then, the heat should be applied evenly, for eight to ten seconds, on the pipe and fittings.

5. One at a time, add the solder to one pipe and fitting joint. An important detail to remember is that half an inch of solder is used for a half-inch sized pipe.

Now, if you have followed through on the above instructions and tips, you will have no need to worry. You have done what you set out to discover and have achieved success. On the other hand, if your copper lines leak afterward, you’ll need to go back and try again. This is why it’s important to learn how to solder copper water pipe by practicing a lot before actually doing in on the water lines of your home.

Pace MBT-250 Soldering Station – Review

A few days ago I had to replace one part of my Pace MBT-250-SDPT, Solder/Desolder Station: the heater assembly for the TJ-70 Mini ThermoJet handpiece. The TJ-70 Mini ThermoJet handpiece provides continuous flow of precision focused hot air for component installation and SMT land preparation. The cost of the part was $125 (without shipping charges). It is also possible to buy the complete ThermoJet handpiece assembly (TJ-70 for the Pace MBT250-SDPT) for $335.

At same time, a friend of mine bought brand new AOYUE 2702 soldering station for $250. He was very happy with this soldering station. I had the opportunity to use this soldering station and it works great. An important thing to note is that the complete AOYUE 2702 soldering system costs less then one hanpiece for the Pace MBT250.

So why would you pay $2000 for Pace MBT250 when you can buy AOYUE 2702 which is similar soldering system for $250?

I like both soldering stations. AOYUE 2702 soldering system is excellent soldering system and will cover most of your soldering needs.

However, if you need soldering station very often and use it on daily basic for a variety of soldering and desoldering project at your company, you should consider the Pace MBT250 soldering system as your first option. Serious consideration should be given to this station if you prefer good quality over low cost and don’t mind spending the extra buck to get best soldering station on market. In other words, Pace MBT250 is really professional soldering system and soldering system for professionals.

In my opinion, Pace MBT250 soldering station is little bit overpriced, but on other hand it really is the best soldering system available, so over time it will pay off.

I have been using this soldering station mostly for soldering and desoldering surface mount components with the use of a microscope (a microscope is not part of Pace MBT250-SDPT station). It really is a joy to work with this station and it is great feeling knowing that it can satisfy all your soldering needs – with the exception of BGA (ball grid array) – surface mount components that have all leads underneath.

Aoyue soldering station 2702 comes with only 3 handpieces. Pace soldering rework station MBT250-SDPT comes with the following 4 handpices:

-PS-90 Pace soldering pencil,

-SX-90 Desoldering Handpiece,

-TP-65 ThermoPik Handpiece

-TT-65 ThermoTweez Handpiece

In addition, two optional handpieces are available separately:

-TJ-70 ThermoJet

-TJ-80 Precision ThermoJet

PS-90 soldering pencil is a very slim iron ideal for soldering of surface mount components as well as for soldering of through hole components.

SX-90 Desoldering Handpiece works as desoldering pump, making it very useful for desoldering of components and cleaning holes on printed circuit boards.

TT-65 ThermoTweez Handpiece is an excellent tool for removing surface mount resistors and capacitors.

I do not use the TP-65 ThermoPik Handpiece much because for each surface mount IC you want to remove, you need the matching tip -same size and shape as the particular IC. I think this handpiece is great for removing ICs in high volume manufacturing where you use same tip for removing same IC.

I give 5 out of 5 stars to this Pace MBT250 soldering system. I have no doubt that it is the best soldering iron available on market.

Dental Dry Socket – Prevention, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Methods!

After a tooth extraction, a blood clot naturally forms on the empty tooth socket to protect the exposed tissues, nerves, and jawbone and also to facilitate the healing process. However, there are cases where the blood clot is not properly formed or dislodged from the tooth socket, it can cause what is known as dry socket.

Dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis or fibrinolytic alveolitis, is the most common complication of tooth extraction and causes pain or infection which usually last and felt from 3 to 4 days after the tooth has been removed. This dental problem is characterized by severe pain and delayed healing time to recover. People suffering from dental dry socket also have an increased danger of infection and can also deter the treatment required to replace the extracted tooth.

Alveolar osteitis or fibrinolytic alveolitis is the hole in the bone where a tooth has been removed, exposing the nerves, tissues, and bone to air, food, fluid, and anything that enters the mouth. This can result in severe pain and infection that can last for days. The following individuals are prone to suffer alveolar osteitis after their tooth has been extracted:

  • individuals whose wisdom teeth have been removed
  • individuals who use oral contraceptives
  • people who do not follow good oral hygiene
  • people who experienced severe tooth extraction/surgery trauma
  • people with tooth or gum infection
  • smokers/tobacco users
  • those who have experienced dry socket in the past
  • those who use corticosteroids

Signs and symptoms

It is enough for your dentist or oral surgeon to suspect dry socket after a severe pain following tooth extraction. You will be asked about other symptoms and he or she will examine your mouth to check if you have an exposed bone or a blood clot in your tooth socket. An X-ray might also be done on your teeth and mouth to determine the severity and exclude other conditions.

Signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • An empty tooth socket which is partially or completely devoid of blood clot
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Exposed bone which is very painful and sensitive to touch
  • Foul smell coming from the mouth
  • Inflamed tissues surrounding the empty socket
  • Moderate to severe throbbing pain in the socket that can spread to your neck, eyes, and ears within a few days after the tooth has been removed
  • Slight fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Causes

Dry sockets can happen in about 3-5% of tooth extractions and most common after extraction and impacted wisdom teeth. There is no accurate explanation as to what causes dry socket, but several factors may be included such as:

  • Age of patient – older patients are more at risk of dry socket than younger ones
  • An active infection in the gum and high bacterial count in the area of the extracted tooth due to poor oral hygiene
  • History of experiencing dry sockets
  • Location of the tooth
  • Patient’s health condition
  • Poor compliance with the dentist’s post-op instructions regarding clot formation and blood clot protection
  • Severe tissue and bone trauma after a difficult tooth extraction
  • Smoking and/or using tobacco after a tooth extraction
  • Tiny root or bone fragments left in the wound after extraction
  • Too much alcohol intake
  • Use of oral contraceptives – estrogen can trigger fibrinolysis activity that leads to disintegration of blood clot

Treatment

Treatment and drugs for dry socket is mainly intended to reducing the pain and other symptoms but it won’t speed up the healing. Diagnosing a dry socket correctly is important so as not to confuse it with other dental pains like root canal issues. As soon as treatment has been done, relief will come in as little as 5 minutes, while other symptoms will go away in the next few days. Total healing usually take from 10-14 days. Several dry socket treatments include:

  • Applying medicated dressings
  • Flushing out the socket to remove any food particles or other debris in it that might add up to the pain or infection
  • Taking pain relievers
  • Self-care wherein you will be given instructions on how to continue treating dry socket at home
  • Putting cold packs outside your face where there is pain to decrease the swelling and pain
  • Not smoking and avoiding any tobacco products
  • Keeping hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of liquids
  • Using warm salt water to gently rinse your mouth several times throughout the day
  • Gently brushing the teeth around the dry socket area
  • Taking pain relievers as prescribed by your dentist
  • Sticking to scheduled appointments with your dentist for changing of dressings or other dental care procedures
  • Making a dental appointment as soon as the pain returns or worsens before the scheduled appointment

Prevention

There are several things that can be done to reduce the possibility of a dry socket after a tooth extraction. Your dentist will give you instructions to ensure the proper healing and prevention of dry socket. These guidelines may include:

  • Using warm salt water, antibacterial mouth washes, rinse, or gels to keep the are clean
  • Antibiotics especially if you have poor immune system
  • Applying antiseptic solutions to the wound
  • Applications of medicated dressings after surgery
  • Avoiding rigorous activities
  • Taking the recommended medications
  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and carbonated, and hot beverages for 1-2 days
  • No smoking before and after surgery to avoid contamination
  • Avoiding drinking through a straw or spitting to prevent dislodging the blood clot
  • Eat only soft foods
  • Take care when brushing around the area of dry socket
  • Tell your dentist about any other medications your are taking to know if they are interfering with blood clotting

Summary:

Every dentist is aware that there is always a chance that their patient will have a dry socket after a tooth extraction so don’t hesitate to ask them for help if you think you are suffering from one. It is their obligation to extend assistance in providing any follow-up dental care needed to lessen the complications of dry socket and improve your dental health.

Even though dry socket is recognized as early as in the late 1800’s, medical scientists are still looking for a surefire way to prevent it other than with medications like antibiotics before and after surgery. This issue still remains debatable and there are others that argue that using antibiotics for treatment may trigger other problems especially to health issues that concerns antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

On the lighter side, knowing the signs and symptoms that can lead to dry socket is important and if you find that you are among the 3-5% that might have it, contact your dentist immediately and take all the necessary action needed to help in the prevention or treatment of it. Your dentist might have to flush out the socket to clean it of any particles and apply the necessary medicated dressings to protect the socket. He or she can also prescribe several medications to help reduce or alleviate the pain and swelling. However, your dentist can give you instructions on how to care for it at home and all will be well if you follow his or her self-care advice.

Calcium Carbide – The Illuminating Chemical Compound

Just like with other calcium compounds that contains the suffix -ide in their names, calcium carbide is not also associated in the production of calcium-based supplements. It is commonly used on modern industrial applications as well. Read on the preceding contents of this article and learn more.

Chemical Compound Reaction

Bearing the chemical formula CaC2, it is produced through the process of electrostatic discharge by means of mixing carbon and lime at high temperature. When reacted with water, it produces acetylene. Such reaction is the principle behind the production of dissolved acetylene which is the only modern industrial use.

Application

The most common application is on so-called carbide lamps (also known as acetylene lamps) wherein it uses acetylene gas which is produced by means of combining the chemical compound and water. Such lamps were formerly used in mines.

Calcium carbide in this application takes the form of small pellets or chunks that is placed on the lower chamber of the lamp. Its upper chamber is filled with another reactant, which is water. There is a screw valve or similar mechanism which controls the drip rate of water to the lower chamber where it is stored. Such water drip rate control results to the production of acetylene gas. It results in control of the size of the flame as well as the quantity of light that it produces.

The reaction of water generates enough quantity of heat apart from the flame. In cold cave conditions, the heat can be used to save someone from hypothermia.

After the entire quantity has reacted with water, the lower chamber contains now a wet paste of calcium hydroxide or caustic lime which is emptied in order to be refilled for the next usage. The caustic lime is toxic on humans and animals and must be deposited on a place wherein no one will be affected.

The next application is the flare which is a type of pyrotechnic that emits a brilliant light as well as intense heat without the occurrence of an explosion. It is commonly used as a signal and illumination (especially on small fishing boats) as well as defensive counter measures in military and civilian applications.

It is only handled within industrial production. Individuals who work with this chemical compound always take some precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incident that may happen due to mishandling of calcium carbide.